On Friday, May 18, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) welcomed Audrey Pazur as his Page for a Day in Springfield. The page program is coordinated through Morrison's Springfield office. If you have a child who would like to experience the Illinois legislative process up close from the floor of the House of Representatives, please contact Morrison's Springfield office at (217) 782-8026.
On this edition of the Morrison Report, State Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) talks with his colleague State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) about the recent school shooting at the high school in Dixon, IL.

During graduation practice for seniors, a classmate entered the gymnasium with a rifle and began shooting. Thankfully, a trained and armed school resource officer was on site and immediately sprang into action and prevented the gunman from causing any injuries or deaths.

Click here to watch the video interview.
Legislators Return to Capitol for Final Weeks of Spring Session
Lawmakers returned to Springfield this week to begin the final 3 ½ weeks of the spring session. During this time we will consider Senate Bills that successfully passed out of that chamber and affirm or reject Senate amendments made to House bills we previously approved earlier this year. Budget discussions will become more intense as the May 31 adjournment date draws nearer.

Rep. Morrison Gives Comcast Newsmaker Interview
I recently sat down with Ellee Pai Hong from Comcast Newsmakers to discuss savings that could be generated by consolidating individual police and fire pension systems in two larger systems. Click here to watch the full interview.

Pension Debt Continues to Threaten Illinois’ Credit Rating
The burden of unpaid Illinois pensions continues to mount on state and local taxpayers. Illinois’ state-managed pensions should have over $130 billion more funds under investment than they currently have. This shortfall is called the “unfunded pension liability.” These monies are required to pay mandated benefits to local teachers and state employees. Unfunded pensions for local workers, including local police officers and firefighters, add additional billions to this debt.

House Republicans continue to warn about the situation and demand true, long-term pension reforms. These warnings have been joined by Senate Republicans and by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Every Illinois man, woman, and child owes $11,000 in unfunded pension obligations. These burdens will have a seriously detrimental effect on Illinois’ prospects for future economic growth unless reforms are enacted.

More than $141,000 in Library Grants Benefiting 54th District
We are very fortunate in the 54th District to have wonderful community libraries. I am pleased to announce that $141,353 in state-sponsored per capita grant money has been approved for libraries serving the 54th Legislative House District. The Public Library Per Capita Grants Program was established to assist public libraries to improve and increase library services within their service areas. Grant amounts of up to $1.25 per person served are available, on an annual basis, to all Illinois local public libraries through an application process.

Libraries serving the 54th Legislative House District that will receive funds include:
  • Palatine Public Library District for $111,228.75 
  • Rolling Meadows Library for $30,123.75 
Since 1979, this annual grant program has provided funding to support the day-to-day operations of Illinois’ public libraries. According to the Secretary of State’s office, most libraries have chosen to use the money to fund library materials, programs and personnel.

Revenue Numbers Published for April 2018
Legislators routinely rely on financial data provided by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), a nonpartisan budgeting arm of the Illinois General Assembly. COGFA works with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and other State agencies to track Illinois general funds revenues on a month-to-month basis. The data gathered by COGFA is reported to the General Assembly annually and is supposed to be used by the House and Senate to adopt a revenue estimate to control spending in the appropriations process. While budget discussions are underway, the General Assembly has not yet approved a revenue estimate. State law in Illinois actually requires us to adopt a revenue estimate:
The House and Senate by joint resolution shall adopt or modify such estimates as may be appropriate. The joint resolution shall constitute the General Assembly’s estimate, under paragraph B of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution, of funds estimated to be available during the next fiscal year (25 ILCS 155/4(a))
A revenue estimate is also required by Subsection (b) of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution of Illinois:
Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.
With less than three weeks remaining in the legislative session and no approved revenue estimate in place, I recently joined Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and other House Republicans in filing a resolution that urges lawmakers to immediately adopt COGFA’s revenue estimate so it serve as the starting point of legitimate budget discussions for Fiscal Year 2019. HJR 124 adopts the COGFA revenue estimate of $37.672 billion for fiscal year 2019.

“Better Care Illinois” Behavioral Health Initiative Announced
Illinois has received federal approval to launch a sweeping $2 billion behavioral health initiative designed to deliver better outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders. The Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative is the culmination of a 30-month long effort to involve state health agencies, legislators and behavioral health organizations in a coordinated plan to help people with disorders that require treatment of the whole person.

The waiver is not a grant but rather an opportunity to use $2 billion Medicaid dollars differently to increase the efficiency and quality of care for Medicaid populations. The state got the go-ahead to launch the initiative from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) which approved the state's application for an 1115 Waiver. The waiver means that beginning July 1, 2018, Illinois can begin investing $2 billion of federal funds in 10 pilots to demonstrate better care alternatives and outcomes.

Better Care Illinois is a win for state taxpayers who over time will see better health outcomes without spending more state dollars. The demonstrations will result in more early help for beneficiaries, so savings can eventually be invested in more cost-effective services. More than 750,000 beneficiaries, 25 percent of Illinois' Medicaid population, have behavioral health conditions, and they account for 52 percent of Medicaid spending. The application process was led by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), the state's Medicaid agency. Thirteen state agencies participated in the development of the approved application. The 10 CMS-approved pilot projects involve a variety of treatment, intervention, case management and home health programs. Summaries of the 10 pilots in the Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative can be accessed here.

Top 200 Historic Sites Chosen in Informal Poll
The Illinois Top 200 Project turned this week to top historic sites. Illinois residents were asked to choose a top Illinois site via an informal online poll. The winning choice was Lincoln’s New Salem, the open-air heritage site operated by the Historic Preservation Division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Located in Central Illinois, New Salem was the home of Abraham Lincoln during the formative years of the future president’s young manhood. Here he kept store, sorted mail, and studied law in preparation for his future career. 

Other leading candidates included the Pullman National Monument on Chicago’s Far South Side. A reminder of Illinois’ industrial and railroad heritage, the Pullman Monument contains many buildings from the 1880s. In northern Illinois, the John Deere home and blacksmith shop in Grand Detour pays tribute to Illinois inventiveness and craftsmanship. Lincoln’s Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Southern Illinois, U.S. Route 66, the Old State Capitol, Fort de Chartres, Fort Massac, and the President Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home rounded out the top ten sites honored.

Hotline and Network of Legal Services Launched to Assist Veterans and Service Members
The Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN) is the first-ever statewide hotline and network of legal support services for veterans, active-duty military, National Guard, reservists and their dependents. Through the IL-AFLAN, veterans and military personnel can obtain free legal help for urgent family, housing and consumer problems, as well as issues such as discharge upgrades and benefit appeals. The free hotline can be accessed at 1-855-452-3526 (1-855-ILAFLAN) and is staffed by attorneys Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 4:30 PM. Serving as the entry point to the IL-AFLAN, the hotline will offer legal advice and brief services and then connect veterans and military personnel to legal aid providers near their community. Nine organizations, spanning every major area of the state, have received grants to provide legal aid services as part of the IL-AFLAN. To be eligible for services through this new program, veterans and active duty military members need to have an income less than 80 percent of the Chicago area median income. For a family of four, this translates into $63,000 annually.

Governor’s Hometown Awards Applications Available
Applications are being accepted for the Governor’s Hometown Awards, the annual recognition program in honor of community leadership programs that maintain the quality of life in the places where the program participants live and work. Past winners include programs that engage in food drives, tutoring, senior welfare awareness, the war against opioids, and exercise and trail maintenance. The Hometown Awards will be celebrated this year in conjunction with the Illinois Bicentennial. This year’s cycle will celebrate community projects that took place in calendar year 2017. Applications are due no later than August 1, 2018.

State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) recently sat down with Ellee Pai Hong from Comcast Newsmakers to discuss savings that could be generated by consolidating individual police and fire pension systems in two larger systems. Click here to watch the full interview.

State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) announced today that $141,353 in state-sponsored per capita grant money has been approved for libraries located in the 54th Legislative House District.

The Public Library Per Capita Grants Program was established to assist public libraries to improve and increase library services within their service areas. Grant amounts of up to $1.25 per person served are available, on an annual basis, to all Illinois local public libraries through an application process.

“Libraries are often a focal point of a community,” said Morrison. “I am pleased to know that a portion of this year’s per capita library grant funds will be channeled toward libraries here in the 54th District.”

Libraries within the 54th Legislative House District that will receive funds include:
  • Palatine Public Library District for $111,228.75 
  • Rolling Meadows Library for $30,123.75 
Per Capita Grant funding allows resources for expenses such as materials, personnel, equipment, electronic access, telecommunications and technology.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Morrison) recently spoke about his role on the Personnel & Pensions Committee and some of the legislation that has been considered by the committee members this year. Click here to view the video.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) joined Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) today in filing a resolution in support of adopting a revenue estimate in order to begin serious budget discussions for Fiscal Year 2019.

“It is our constitutional duty to taxpayers across Illinois to spend within our means – something we have not done in decades here at the Capitol,” Durkin said. “The rejection of certifying a revenue estimate in Springfield is not acceptable and is legislative malpractice. We owe it to Illinois taxpayers to take this first step in finally balancing the state’s checkbook and putting Illinois on the right track towards fiscal stability.”

House Joint Resolution 124 adopts a revenue estimate of $37.672 billion for fiscal year 2019, based on the estimate provided by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA).

“COGFA is a well-respected non-partisan organization that provides the General Assembly with reliable data on which we can make good decisions,” said Morrison. “Their revenue estimate of $37.67 billion is based on thorough research and I encourage the House and Senate to adopt their estimate without delay so it may be used as the starting point of formulating a balanced budget for Fiscal year 2019.” 

According to Morrison, a revenue estimate is required by state law:

The House and Senate by joint resolution shall adopt or modify such estimates as may be appropriate. The joint resolution shall constitute the General Assembly’s estimate, under paragraph B of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution, of funds estimated to be available during the next fiscal year (25 ILCS 155/4(a))

It is also required by Subsection (b) of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution of Illinois:
Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.
The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office is offering Illinoisans an opportunity to submit artwork for consideration to be emblazoned on a special 2018 Illinois Bicentennial medallion. The contest timeline to submit a design is now through May 1, 2018. All designs must be submitted via the official online form located here. Submissions will be judged initially by the treasurer's office based on content uniqueness, creativity, quality, accuracy, and completion. Contestants must be Illinois residents and may only submit one design. The top five designs will be made available for the public to vote on between June 1, 2018 and June 15, 2018 on the treasurer's office website. A final winner will be announced on June 18, 2018.

The contest winner will be announced via press release and on social media, and the contest winner will be notified prior to the official announcement. Please read all contest terms and conditions. Questions should be directed to Maria Oldani via e-mail (moldani@illinoistreasurer.gov) or phone (217-782-9598).
On Wednesday, Governor Bruce Rauner presented his annual budget address. His recommended spending and revenue plan is the starting point of Fiscal Year 2019 budget discussions. After the speech, Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) spoke about the importance of right-sizing our government and bringing spending under control. Click here to watch Rep. Morrison's remarks.
Click here to watch the speech live at noon today.
Lawmakers Return to Springfield for Start of 2018 Session
Members of the House and Senate returned to the Capitol this week for the start of the 2018 legislative session. The highlight of the week occurred on Wednesday, January 31, when the Governor presented his annual State of the State address before a joint session of the General Assembly. Governor Rauner struck a positive tone as he spoke about the continued need for bipartisan solutions that will grow the Illinois economy and restore public trust.

Following the 45-minute speech I provided my thoughts about the speech in an interview. Click here to view that video.

Morrison Champions Taxpayer’s Fiscal Charter Legislation
Last week I signed on as the Chief Co-Sponsor of important legislation that would significantly reform Illinois’ budget process. The “Taxpayer’s Fiscal Charter” gives broad power to taxpayers, limits lawmakers’ ability to create new and unfunded entitlement programs, stops the flow of unfunded mandates toward schools and local government, and ensures the pension system’s stability.

Specifically, HB 4229 includes:
  • A two-year freeze in discretionary State spending; the freeze would continue after the deadline if at that point the State is unable to pay vendors within 30 days 
  • A prohibition against adding any new programs or expansions of existing programs unless a full pension payment - based on actuarial requirements - is made 
  • A requirement that any new legislation which creates new spending include an identified revenue source or identified cuts to an existing program to pay for the new spending
  • A mandatory 72-hour online posting of the General Assembly’s proposed new fiscal year budget prior to passage
Lawmakers must take serious action to address reckless spending, and the provisions included in HB 4229 represent a major first step in addressing Illinois’ financial problems.

Morrison Signs On as Chief Co-Sponsor of Legislation to Enact Term Limits for Legislative Leaders
This week I joined some of my House Republican colleagues in championing new legislation that would put 10-year term limits in place for legislative leaders. HB 4194 would change state law to allow a member of the General Assembly to serve no more than 10 years as Speaker of the House, House Minority Leader, President of the Senate or Senate Minority Leader. If approved and signed into law, the provisions of the bill would take effect with the inauguration of the next General Assembly in 2019. I believe this bill would be a good way to restore some accountability to Springfield and prevent any one individual from accumulating too much power within state government.

Metra Seeks Public Input on Proposed Fare Structure
Metra is seeking input from customers regarding potential changes to fare structure and ticket options at several public forums this February. A public hearing will be held in Arlington Heights at the Village Hall on Thursday, February 8 from 4:00-7:00 PM. The village hall is located at 33 S. Arlington Heights Road. You can also comment on the proposed changes online here. To read more about the proposed changes and the upcoming hearings, click here.

State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) announced today that $17,637 in school library grant money has been approved for two school districts located in the 54th Legislative House District.

The School District Library Grant Program is designed to help provide more library books and materials for students attending public schools in Illinois. The state legislature has authorized up to a $.75 per pupil expenditure for qualifying schools. The grant award is based on funds appropriated by the General Assembly and the official enrollment as of the previous September 30th of a school district.

Specifically, the following grants will be processed by the Secretary of State’s Office next week and then forwarded to the Comptroller’s office for payment:
  • Township High School District #211: $8,724.75
  • Palatine Community Consolidated School District #15: $8,912.25
“Print and digital reading materials are an incredibly important element of teaching and learning,” said Morrison. “I am pleased to know that a portion of this year’s school library grant allocation will be put to good use right here in the 54th District.”
January is National Blood Donation Month, and the recent cold weather has added an additional strain to an already-low blood supply. Each unit of blood that is donated can save up to three lives, and while approximately 60 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, fewer than five percent of the eligible public actually donates. Click here to find the location of an upcoming blood drive year you.

To be eligible to donate blood in Illinois, donors must:
  • Be 17 years of age or older (16 year-olds may donate with parental consent)
  • Be in good health on the day of the donation
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Be free of cold and flu symptoms
  • Present a photo ID with a birth date
  • Not have a history of Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C at any age
Warming centers are available throughout the state to help Illinois residents fight cold temperatures during this record-setting cold weather. Click here to search for a warming center near you.